Friday, July 31, 2009

UPDATED CONTEST INSTRUCTIONS! Win Tickets to see Steve Kimock Crazy Engine at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ!

Steve Kimock Crazy Engine

Thanks to Steve Kimock and his team, I have the wonderful opportunity to give away a pair of tickets to the upcoming STEVE KIMOCK CRAZY ENGINE (featuring Melvin Seals) show at the legendary Stone Pony club in Asbury Park, NJ, on Friday, August 14, 2009.  I’m so excited to be hosting this contest because NJ is my home state and my early musical stomping grounds!

The Stone Pony show is one of the last chances to see this incredible band before their summer tour ends.  The last few dates of the summer tour are:

 Aug 7-8 Dancin' in the Streets - Denver, CO

Aug 14 Stone Pony - Asbury Park, NJ

Aug 15 A Bear's Picnic - Laurelton, PA

OK, so here’s how to compete for the free pair of tickets to


Send an email telling me your BEST TOUR STORY to!  This could be any tour story, from anyone, seeing any band, anywhere in the United States, at any time between the mid-’60s and today.  Did you have a crazy time getting to a show?  Did you have a religious experience at a concert?  Tell me your craziest, funniest, most outrageous tour story and I will choose the best one.

If I choose your story, I will post it and your name on this blog and you will win the pair of tickets to see STEVE KIMOCK CRAZY ENGINE at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park on Friday, August 14!

Good luck, and may the best tour story win!  The contest will end at midnight on Friday, August 7.

Special thanks to Kimock’s publicity team at Tsunami for making this contest possible.

For more information about Steve Kimock Crazy Engine, and a taste of their live performance, read my exclusive JamBase feature article on the band, or my show review of the band’s debut in Norfolk, Virginia on

Monday, July 27, 2009

Everything's Comin' up Joy!

Wow.  I come back from a no-technology vacation to find that Phish will be playing their three-day festival in late October a mere one hundred and forty miles from my house. The announcement, mind you, comes on the heels of the other momentous events of Phish debuting their song “Joy” in New Jersey—my home state, for those of you not paying attention—and then naming their album after me as well. 

All those years of traveling far and wide across this great country…and come fall, I will only have to drive about two and a half hours.  This is more like it! All I have to say is, thank you, Phish.  Thank you.

And just to thank you for reading this far, here’s some more reading.  Stop groaning.  What else do you really need to be doing right now, anyway?  The FAQ on the Phish website is pretty freakin’ hilarious.  Enjoy!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Oswegoversary!

Reflections on Phish’s two-day summer festival and my 22nd birthday
In July 1999, I was living near my hometown in central New Jersey, working at a local Italian restaurant owned by two brothers from Queens, just before my last year of college. Phish was doing a summer tour and had conveniently scheduled a festival on July 17 and 18 (my birthday) at the Volney Airport in the upstate New York town of Oswego. Not really knowing many Phishheads, I ordered a ticket online and waited for the day to come, figuring I’d drive my aging Toyota Camry up for the event and see what adventures befell me. I was about to turn 22, and I was up for pretty much anything.
As the day approached, my friend Amy grew incredulous. “Joy,” she said, “You are not going to this festival alone.” She had a friend who was driving as part of a caravan going up to the shows. His name was Alex, and I would meet him the night we left town, at the show on the 16th at the Garden State Arts Center, in my neck of the woods, where Phish was also conveniently stopping right before the festival. (OK, it was called the PNC Bank Arts Center, but, to me and many others from in and around central Jersey, it will always be the Garden State Arts Center, thank you very much!)

All I knew about Alex was that he was going to be wearing a green shirt. I was to meet him at Will Call at 6:30 before the show. He was there, and prompt. We made plans to hightail it out after the show, and went into the venue.
That night, Phish played a great show where I danced all night up on the lawn. A highlight was the beautifully executed trifecta of “Mike’s Songà”I Am Hydrogen”àWeekapaug Groove” during the second set. Trey and Page, the guitarist and keyboardist, are from New Jersey and mentioned, for the encore, that “the greatest songwriter of all time” was coming out to join the band. They busted into “Born to Run,” the unofficial NJ state anthem.
Now, you have to know that The Boss, Bruce Springstein, was in the area for two weeks as part of the E Street reunion tour, so he was on everybody’s radar. When the dancing guy in the blue jeans, white t-shirt, and red baseball hat came out dancing, there were a few moments of disbelief…alas, no; it was Tom Marshall, the band’s lyricist, but the place was going absolutely nuts. A great start to the run. Alex followed me back to my mom’s house where I dropped off my car and hopped in his passenger seat. And away we went.
We drove through the night in a caravan of two other vehicles, arriving at Oswego sometime in the morning. The sky was bright blue, there were fields and forests, and the congestion of the suburbs was becoming a distant memory. And then we hit the traffic jam.
But as we were all just kind of sitting there, inching forward in our cars, everyone made the best of it. Shut the engines off, everyone—party by the side of the road! People were walking through the cars, selling food, looking for tickets, playing guitars. Alex and I got to know each other and had more than a few laughs on that trip, even though I caused us a slight delay at one point. Of course, I got out to relieve myself in the forest just moments before the traffic moved forward substantially, and poor Alex was stuck, waiting for me, getting passed by car after car!
The heat that day was over one hundred degrees. And our campsite was on gravel, next to an unusually large pile of rocks. But, I knew, as I stood atop that rock pile, seeing all the cars and tents stretched as far as I could see, and seeing that the older couple next to us in the Volkswagen minibus had planted a Grateful Dead dancing bear flag atop that pile of rocks, that I was going to have the best birthday a girl could have.

View from pile o'rocks
I had been to shows before, but it was my first Phish festival. The first time I saw the massive gathering on the airstrip of thousands of people selling, trading, partying, smiling (plus, it was summer and I was a sucker for skinny hippie boys with no shirts). Phish threw an enormous party, with two sets each day, and one each night. I don’t remember much about the 17th, but the 18th was a day I will never forget. I tore off the mental seatbelt and hurtled headfirst into the moments as they unfolded the rest of that afternoon.
Somehow, we managed to make it pretty close to the stage, by festival standards. Phish’s first set was lighthearted and fun, with “Farmhouse,” “Water in the Sky,” and “Bathtub Gun.” Then, they brought out bluegrass legend Del McCoury for “Back on the Train,” “If You Need a Fool,” “I’m Blue I’m Lonesome,” and “Beauty of My Dreams.” I’d never seen thousands of people high-steppin’ it to bluegrass with abandon before, let alone in the middle of an airstrip in a rural setting. There was joy, there was laughter, there were more than a few do-si-dos.
During the second set, the band played “The Meatstick,” which, for those of you who don’t know, think a large group dance like “Macarena” slowed down about a gazillion times so a bunch of stoners can follow along with the hand motions. Trey announced that we would be trying to achieve a Guinness World Record for “Largest Group Dance,” and that someone was on hand to document the event. So, there we all were, sixty thousand otherwise fully functional individuals, dancing choreographed motions to a song with these lyrics:
Time for the Meatstick
Bury the Meatstick
Take out the Meatstick Time
Woah, shocks my brain
Woah, shocks my brain!
Classic Phish. Apparently, however, the record was not set, we discovered later. Not for lack of trying, however. Not for lack of trying.
The last set that night was one of the stranger Phish experiences I’ve had before or since. Trey set an ominous vibe with “Wilson,” which, for the uninitiated, involves a few bass beats, followed by a second of silence, before the darkened crowd calls, simultaneously, “Wiiillll-son!” Rinse, lather, repeat. Add eerie chills as Chris Kuroda, lighting engineer, scours the crowd with multiple searchlights. The “Catapult” that followed was just downright evil—in the best way possible, of course. Then, during “Icculus,” Trey exhibited some manic behavior and I remember him at one point pounding on the keys with Page, screaming the lyrics, “Read the f-ing book!” while oscillating between “Smoke on the Water” and “Cat Scratch Fever” teases, trying to determine whether they were, indeed, the same song (think about it….right??) The night ended with “Quinn the Eskimo,” “Fluffhead,” and a “Harry Hood” encore. We headed back to the campsites, where the party would be in full swing for the rest of the night.
I don’t think I got much sleep that night, wandering from party to party in the parking lot. Campfires, drum circles, and the all-night strobe disco bus parties took most of my attention for the next several hours. By the time the sun came up, I was ready to get my few hours of sleep before the sun heated the pile of rocks to the point where my tent would become unbearable. Later in the day, we were some of the last people to leave the camp area, trying to squeeze as much from the weekend as possible.

Some fans practicing "Meatstick" hand motions
As we hit the first gas station on our way out of that farm town, I was reality-checked back to real life. The front page of the newspaper on July 19 read, “JFK, JR. DIES IN PLANE CRASH.” I had to read the thing a few times before it sank in.
And so for the rest of my life, I will remember my 22nd birthday with heartfelt fondness, but also an intense awareness of life and death and a newfound appreciation for love and friendship.
Alex and his friends, who were strangers to me one moment, took me into their group and made me feel like family.
Phish's versatility as musicians was beyond my realm of comprehension. At that point, I knew I knew had found a band that would never stop surprising me--and they never have.
The world took on a new glow for me after Oswego. I knew what it felt like to follow my heart.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Article up on JamBase!

Recently, I interviewed Samantha Stollenwerck about her forthcoming album and the new sound she's working on with producer Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow) and other notable musicians whose band credits include Beck, Macy Gray, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and others.  The interview and a review of Stollenwerck's recent re-emergence onto the L.A. music scene at the legendary Viper Room currently can be read here on JamBase.

Look for Samantha playing out around town as she tries the new tunes on for size, and definitely check some of them out on her MySpace page or on her Web site,

I met Samantha at the Gathering of the Vibes Festival in 2008, and noticed that besides former Grateful Dead member Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay and mistress of funk Jen Durkin of Deep Banana Blackout, she was one of the only females I saw performing that weekend. 

I really dug Samantha's music then, but her new stuff is over the top.  Besides being an excellent performer and a beauty taboot, Samantha was very approachable, granting me an interview for the jamband book on the spot and giving me her backstage artist pass so I could go on to interview New Riders of the Purple Sage and Umphrey's McGee, not to mention get within a few feet of handing Phil Lesh my tie-dyed business card (alas, I was stopped by a burly security guard).
Samantha rockin' out 

Samantha grew up on the southern California sounds of Sublime but found her way to the folk scene in San Francisco, eventually sharing a stage with Bob Weir and Tea Leaf Green in 2006 at the legendary Fillmore for the 40th Anniversary of the Acid Tests/Bill Graham 75th Birthday Bash, in memory of the late, great concert promoter of the Bay area psychedelic rock scene.  

Enjoy more photos from the evening.  Special thanks to David Serota for providing the JamBase photos.
Jeff Trott

Jeff Trott, Samantha Stollenwerck, Joan Jones

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rothbury Reminiscin'!

Since I won’t be at Rothbury this year, the next best thing is…Reminiscing about last year’s Rothbury!  Thought I’d share some photos and tales from the festival’s inaugural year, 2008.

It was my first trip to Michigan, and it began by flying into Indiana and driving north to pick up some friends in southern Michigan.  The flight into Indy was delayed because of a massive rainstorm that kept us grounded for many hours.  It was getting late and I was starting to fall asleep in the airport—never mind having to make a connecting flight and THEN rent a car and drive an hour and a half to my friends’ house.  But, of course, I made it, and stayed the night with them.  The next morning, we drove another two and a half hours to the Rothbury Festival site on the Double J Ranch.  The site was utopian, skies were blue—what more could we ask for?

Not to be camping on sharp hay and puddles of mud, apparently.  But we persevered, my friends set up their tie-dye stand and began the great American festival weekend chill.  I, meanwhile, proceeded to march the mile or so to the stages.  Turns out that despite early entrance to the site, we were still camped at exactly the farthest point from all the music.  Not to worry; I would get a ton of exercise over the next few days!

Note: It’s a great idea to break new sandals in before getting to the festival.  Although I’d worn these new Chacos a few times, nothing could prepare my feet for the torture they were about to be put through, resulting in me not being able to get the feet into the Chacos by the last day.  Chacos, for those of you who are in the know, are slip-ons.  Slip-ons.

I was lucky enough to be attending the festival as the guest of the festival producers, Madison House, and over the next few days would have the opportunity to interview many of my favorite musicians.  I chose to attend this festival rather than, say, Bonnaroo, because not only was it a music festival with music I love, but it also had aims to become the “greenest” large-scale gathering in the country, music or otherwise, with an eighty-percent trash diversion rate for the weekend.  This was achieved by having hundreds of volunteers who worked "trash duty"—basically, standing near stations of three garbage cans labeled "Compost," "Recycle," and “Landfill.”  The festival’s aim was to make young people aware of climate change and get them involved in solutions. 

With killer music that weekend that included Phil Lesh, Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic, Gov't Mule, an acoustic Trey set and a Mike–Trey reunion (and debut of two new Phish songs), there were also little “think tanks” happening on site every day where musicians, climate change scientists, music fans, and festival producers would get together and talk about solutions to global warming and how to reduce the waste produced by festivals.  I attended one with Michael Franti from Spearhead and another with Dave Murphy from Sound Tribe Sector 9.

Conscious Alliance was also on hand all weekend, collecting donations of canned food from concertgoers.  That weekend, Conscious Alliance set a Guinness World Record for “Largest Canned Food Sculpture,” made from 45,725 cans that had been donated by Whole Foods market and would be donated to a local Michigan food bank at the festival’s end.

I attended a Greening Panel that featured the festival’s incredible Greening Chief, Sarah Haynes, who detailed the festival’s zero-waste plan: No items were handed out that might wind up in the trash.  All the disposable items that go along with food vending were mandatorily compostable.  We’re talking beer cups that looked like plastic, but were actually made from corn, and plates that looked like Styrofoam, but were actually made from sugarcane.  Wheat cutlery rounded out this picture, and all would be composted onsite after the festival.  The fuel for the generators was run not only on Biodiesel fuel, but recycled Biodiesel.  Water bottles weren’t sold; attendees were asked to bring their own, refillable ones, and load up at filling stations throughout the grounds.

The festival also featured a local Farmer's Market.  


While I was walking around, checking out the fresh selections, I started talking with a woman named Patrice at a stand called Full Circle organic farm.  Turns out Patrice was a teenager at the original Woodstock.  She went without a ticket and wound up serving food with the Hog Farmers that weekend.  Here she was, 40 years later, with her own organic food stand at yet another music festival!  It was a pleasure meeting Patrice and hearing her tales.

The weekend was incredible musically, weather-wise, and vibe-wise.  Highlights for me were the Dave Matthews set when he was joined on stage by awesome fiddler Anne Marie Calhoun, and running into my friend Nick just as Dave busted into Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer."  

Taj Mahal never disappoints, not to mention the near-Phish reunion, my first Greensky Bluegrass set, standing about ten feet from Trey for his first appearance back from the bust, the afternoon Steel Pulse set, and a 3 a.m. rave with Sound Tribe Sector 9 at the edge of Sherwood Forest--the best part of the Double J!  The forest is a few hundred yards of perfectly straight pine trees that separate the two main stages, and is decorated with webbing in the trees, little tipi chill huts, hammocks, weird colored lighting, and even a secret stage.  

There was also this really bizarre swinging monkey exhibit that looked to be some sort of amusement park ride that lay dormant during the day.  But one night, after coming back from a late-night show, the monkeys were in action.  The "ride" turned on, blaring techno music and a strobe light, so that it looked like the monkeys were swinging from branch to branch.  It didn't, of course, start moving until I was almost right underneath the thing--and, seriously, when that strobe began, it blinded me and I lost everyone in my party, who had all gone in search of...anything...that's...not...flashing...The monkeys still haunt me one year later, but I'll make it; don't worry.

If you’re headed to Rothbury this weekend, HAVE FUN, and definitely stop by and visit Carrie at the  Vintage Dead booth for your old-school tour t-shirts!  

I encourage everyone to attend Rothbury at some point.  Everyone floated around on an elevated consciousness vibe all weekend, with concertgoers actually staying on the main concert fields after the music was finished for the evenings and picking up trash to help the green crew. It was the cleanest festival I’ve ever attended, hands-down.  Hopefully they are keeping up and even improving upon their green aspirations.  Here are some more photos from the weekend.  Enjoy!

What's a festival without some dude in a sarong playing with devil sticks??

No festival at all, my friend.  None at all.

Guess who??

...and Happy Independence Day!  On July 4, we celebrate the declaration of our indepedence from rule that doesn't recognize our consent.  Let's not forget what this country was founded on: the right of all people to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  ALL PEOPLE...